The evolution of writing systems

Empirical and cross-linguistic approaches


This is the workshop website for the session "The evolution of writing systems" at the 42nd International Conference of the German Linguistics Society (DGfS).

The full programme is now available on the conference website.

Accepted papers

Speaker/s Title
Berg, Kristian (Bonn) Self-organization and utilization in spelling
Borchers, Dörte (Graz) The role of linguistic, cultural and political factors for chosing a writing system for a newly written language
Busch, Florian (Hamburg) Digitalization of punctuation: The 'interactional principle' in digitally mediated writing
Caro Reina, Javier & Işık Akar (Köln) The diachronic use of the apostrophe with proper names in Turkish
Condorelli, Marco (Lancaster) Standardisation as an evolving or an involving process? Evidence from sixteenth and seventeenth-century English spelling
De Wulf, Chris (Zurich) DoDO – Development of Dutch Orthography 1250-1400
Dipper, Stefanie, Sandra Waldenberger & Ilka Lemke (Bochum) Towards a broad-coverage graphematic analysis of large historical corpora
Joyce, Terry (Tama, Tokyo) & Dimitrios Meletis (Graz) The ‘evolution’ of writing systems in terms of typological and other criteria: Cross-linguistic observations from the German and Japanese writing systems
Lüschow, Hanna (Oldenburg) Quantifying graphematic variation via large text corpora
Neumann, Marko (Gießen) Punctuation and text segmentation in 15th -century pamphlets
Postler, Caroline (Oldenburg) A cross-linguistic comparison of functions and usage of word marks
Keynote: Rössler, Paul (Regensburg) Punctuation and typographic variation in 18th century printings: on the vanishing of the virgule
Salomon, Corinna (Vienna) On the non-spelling of nasals before homorganic obstruents in alphabetic scripts
Tinits, Peeter (Tallinn) The mechanisms of spelling standardization for written Estonian 1880-1920
van der Moezel, Kyra (Mainz) Graphemic change in Ancient Egypt: Hieratic writing of the New Kingdom
Verheijen, Lieke (Nijmegen) Orthographic Principles in Written Computer-Mediated Communication: The SUPER-functions of Textisms in Informal Online Writing and Their Interaction with Age and Medium
Keynote: Voeste, Anja (Gießen) A matter of aesthetics? On the interrelation between spelling variation and page layout


Speaker/s Title
Miklas, Heinz (Vienna) What the Slavonic Scripts and Writing Systems Can Teach Us
Valencia Rivera, Rogelio (independent) Writing in tongues. The intermixing of the Latin alphabet and the Nahua writing system after the conquest of Mexico.

Call for Papers

Recent years have seen an increased interest in the investigation of graphemic systems both from a linguistic point of view and in a decidedly interdisciplinary perspective. In particular, various projects have set out to investigate how graphic codes emerge, how they change over time, and to what degree the development of writing systems can give clues to the cognitive principles underlying language. This workshop aims at bringing together researchers who investigate the emergence and change of graphemic systems - including ongoing changes - using corpus-based and/or experimental approaches. Apart from empirical studies investigating the writing system of one specific language or variety, we particularly welcome contributions taking a cross-linguistic perspective by comparing the dynamics of spelling principles and the evolution of graphemic codes in different languages and/or across different scripts. Questions to be discussed include - but are not limited to - the following:

We invite abstracts for 30-minute oral presentations (~20 minutes presentation time + discussion) relevant to the theme session. Abstracts should clearly state the research question(s), the methodological approach, and the (expected) results, and they should not be much longer than 500 words. Please send your abstracts to stefan1.hartmann[at] and nowakj[at] by August 15, 2019 August 31, 2019. Notifications of acceptance/rejection can be expected in early September.

Travel grants

Please note that neither we nor the DGfS can cover travel expenses for workshop participants. However, a limited number of travel grants of up to 500 Euros each are available for accepted contributions by DGfS members without income or with low income.

Important dates


The workshop is organized by

This website is maintained by Stefan Hartmann, Lehrstuhl für Deutsche Sprachwissenschaft, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Hornthalstr. 2, 96047 Bamberg.

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